Review: CSI: New York — ‘Food For Thought’

A chef is killed in a food truck explosion, leading the team in search of a killer and into the world of mobile cuisine.

Synopsis:

Hawkes is with his new girlfriend Camille, enjoying a meal at a mobile food truck festival. The World on Wheels truck explodes, and the pair rush to help injured bystanders as the police and ambulances arrive. The team discovers that the explosive TATP was placed into a glass jar, which was glued to the truck’s propane tank and ignited. The only victim is Derby Chasen, the chef in the food truck. His apron protected his clothing as well as a bruise on his chest. Adam finds trace of a Chinese cave swallow’s spit on the apron, which leads the team to a rare dish called bird’s nest soup—and Derby’s former employer Broxton Langley. Derby was fired after Langley discovered him working in a food truck and using the chef’s recipes. He hit him with a potato ricer, causing the bruise on his chest and leaving behind the cave swallow spit. He may have hit Derby, but he didn’t kill him.

A hot dog vendor named Odelin Gonzales filed numerous complaints against Derby, who was stealing his business by parking his truck illegally on the street. Jo and Flack speak to Odelin, but he claims he would never kill someone—besides, he was helping feed the homeless when Derby was killed, so he has an airtight alibi.

The investigation takes a very different turn when the team looks into an address written on the inside of a takeout container from the World on Wheels truck. It’s a hotel address, and that particular room was rented by Gus Stilton on the night of the explosion. It turns out Derby only owned 50% of the truck, and Gus owns the other 50%. He was using the food trucks as a front for a prostitution ring. Derby wanted to stop selling sex from his truck once he owned 50%, but Gus wouldn’t let him. However, Gus says it wouldn’t make sense to blow up the truck when things were going so well.

The glass jar filled with TATP was glued to the propane tank using a strong ceramic glue, and the killer left behind a fingerprint when he attached the bomb to the truck. The fingerprint leads them to a familiar name, but it’s not the Odelin Gonzales they already spoke to—it’s his son, Odelin Gonzales Jr. When the team picks him up to bring him in for questioning, Hawkes recognizes him from the food festival—he bumped into Hawkes right before the truck exploded. Odelin claims that he did what he had to do, and there was no other way to stop what was happening to his father’s business. He blew up the truck, and he says Derby was far from innocent because he was selling sex out of his truck. Odelin’s father walks in and reminds his son that it isn’t his place to judge whether or not Derby was innocent.


Analysis:

“Food for Thought” marks the return of Camille Jordanson, the beautiful nurse the team rescued back in “Smooth Criminal”. Hawkes grew up with Camille, and sparks flew between the pair during her first appearance. She’s back this week, and it’s obvious that she and Hawkes are more than friends now. Fans have been clamoring for Hawkes to get a girlfriend for years, and I’m glad the writers decided to give the good doctor a love interest—it’s about time!

Unfortunately, I’m just not a fan of the relationship. It’s disappointing because I was so excited to see Hawkes get a love interest, but the relationship is causing major problems for him at work. He called in sick at the start of the episode so he could go to the food festival with Camille—if the truck hadn’t exploded, Mac probably never would have known that Hawkes lied about needing the day off. Playing hooky one time to go on a date is forgivable, but things don’t stop there. Hawkes knows he has a lot of work to do, but he finds a way to attend a party Camille is hosting—and he walks into a room filled with people smoking marijuana. He leaves, pointing out that he’s a cop and it isn’t appropriate for him to be around that kind of behavior, but Camille calls him back. She wants to cut loose and have fun because she doesn’t feel like she got a chance to live when she was younger. It’s understandable, but I’m less forgiving of the fact that Hawkes went back with her and, presumably, sat by while she smoked some marijuana. He gets up late the next morning, and the camera zooms in on a blunt sitting on the nightstand—as with the food truck explosion, if Hawkes hadn’t been chosen for a random drug test that particular day, Mac may never have known about Hawkes’ brush with illegal drugs. I’m sorry, Hawkes, but the universe might be trying to tell you something.

When Mac confronts Hawkes about his positive drug test results at the end, which are not high enough to get him fired, Hawkes echoes Camille’s comments from earlier in the episode by saying that he just wants to have some fun in his time off. Mac points out that he can have fun, but it can’t impact his work when he’s on the clock. It’s obvious that the relationship with Camille is causing problems on the job, and Hawkes seems to recognize this. When Camille shows up at his door at the end of the episode, he tells her that he needs to get some sleep—until Camille drops her coat and reveals that she’s not wearing anything underneath. Hawkes smirks, pulling her into the apartment and closing the door. Hawkes may realize that the relationship is causing him problems at work, but it doesn’t look like he’ll end it any time soon. If they can get to a more reasonable, mature place in the relationship, I have no complaints—but I really don’t want to see Hawkes continue to screw up on the job and make himself look bad in front of his boss and his colleagues because he’s in a relationship that isn’t doing him any favors. It’s about time the man got a girlfriend, but I’m pretty disappointed with what was presented in this episode. It makes Hawkes look like he has poor judgment, and there’s no need to make him look stupid just because he’s finally dating someone.

It was nice to see Danny’s reaction to Hawkes’ new relationship, though. He looks around to make sure his wife isn’t looking before he tells Hawkes that skipping work for Camille is totally understandable, and later in the episode he tells a little white lie to cover up the fact that Hawkes is late. I always enjoy seeing evidence of the close friendships that have developed between these characters over the course of the show. Jo’s response to the situation is more hands-off: when she’s talking to Hawkes at the beginning, she tells him he can save his explanations for Mac. She clearly feels that this is between Hawkes and his boss, and she leaves it alone.

Danny and Lindsay share several moments this week. Lindsay says she’s hungry at the beginning, and Danny brings up the fact that he and Lucy brought Lindsay breakfast in bed…two years ago. Lindsay rattles off a long list of food she wants, and Danny gives her a strange look until she points out that she’s not having food cravings—she’s hungry, not pregnant. Later on, Danny brings her a burger at the lab, and she inches toward the door until she can grab the bag and leave him to deal with the evidence she was working on. Both scenes are funny enough, although the first scene feels a bit forced. I do have to ask one question, and I’ve asked this before: how old is Lucy? Lindsay says Danny and Lucy brought her breakfast in bed two years ago, but technically speaking, the episode where Lucy was born (“Greater Good”) aired less than two years ago. I never get a good sense of how time passes on New York, and I feel like this is one case where the passage of time fits with whatever is convenient. Having Lucy be older works from a storytelling perspective, so as I said in my review for “Do or Die”, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lucy was starting school by the time season eight gets started. (And I’m still crossing my fingers that CBS will give the show another season!)

The scene with Adam, Mac and Jo about the bird’s nest soup is funny, and it’s nice to see Adam taking on a more competitive tone with Jo—it’s a far cry from the awkwardness and fear he exhibited at the start of the season. Mac is once again unimpressed with the way jokes waste his time (like in the age progression scene during “Identity Crisis”), and he gets a bit short with Adam until he stops messing around and gets to the point. I also had to laugh when Adam wonders aloud whether bird spit is considered lucky like bird poop—it’s a very Adam thing to say.

One of the best moments in the episode comes courtesy of Sid. Robert Joy is always a treat, and it’s great to see him go above and beyond the usual cause of death scene by video conferencing with Mac from the morgue while Mac is in his office. Sid is excited about his discovery, and he has to tell Mac about the potato ricer that left a unique bruise on Derby’s chest. Sid’s tangent about the summer course he took at a Bavarian culinary academy brings to mind season two’s “Dancing With the Fishes”. Back then, Sid caught a whiff of fish on the victim and was inspired to come up with a seafood dish—which he rattled off right there in the morgue. Intentional or not, it’s a nice bit of continuity, and it reminds me how much I love the wacky coroner.


See also: “Food for Thought” episode guide

Rachel Trongo

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Rachel Trongo

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